Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

Huawei Mate 20 X (5G) is pictured at the IFA consumer tech fair in Berlin, Germany, on September 5, 2019. (REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo)
Updated 19 September 2019

Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

  • Hit by US sanctions, Huawei's Mate 30 will not be allowed to use Google’s Play Store
  • Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.

BERLIN: Chinese tech giant Huawei launches its latest high-end smartphone in Munich on Thursday, the first that could be void of popular Google apps because of US sanctions.
Observers are asking whether a phone without the Silicon Valley software that users have come to depend on can succeed, or whether Huawei will have found a way for buyers to install popular apps despite the constraints.
The company has maintained a veil of secrecy over its plans, set to be dropped at a 1200 GMT press conference revealing the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models.
Huawei, targeted directly by the United States as part of a broader trade conflict with Beijing, was added to a “blacklist” in Washington in May.
Since then, it has been illegal for American firms to do business with the Chinese firm, suspected of espionage by President Donald Trump and his administration.
As a result, the new Mate will run on a freely available version of Android, the world’s most-used phone operating system that is owned by the search engine heavyweight.
While Mate 30 owners will experience little difference in the use of the system, the lack of Google’s Play Store — which provides access to hundreds of thousands of third-party apps and games as well as films, books and music — could hobble them.
Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
The tech press reports that this yawning gap in functionality has left some sellers reluctant to stock the new phones, fearing a wave of rapid-fire returns from dissatisfied customers.
Huawei president Richard Yu said at Berlin’s IFA electronics fair this month that his engineers found a “very simple” way to install the hottest apps without going via the Play Store.
Huawei could offer its own app store in a preliminary version, setting itself up as a competitor to the dominant Apple and Google offerings, observers speculate.
Over the longer term, the company could build out a similar “ecosystem” of devices, apps and services as the Silicon Valley companies that would bind users more closely to it.
The world’s second-largest smartphone maker after Samsung, Huawei earlier this month presented its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS, a potential replacement for Android.
The Mate 30 will not yet have HarmonyOS installed.
But it could make for a new round in the decades-old “OS wars” between Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS, then Android versus Apple’s iOS.
Meanwhile, Eric Xu, current holder of Huawei’s rotating chief executive chair, has urged Europe to foster an alternative to Google and Apple.
That could provide an opening for Huawei to build up Europe’s market of 500 million well-off consumers as a stronghold against American rivals.
“If Europe had its own ecosystem for smart devices, Huawei would use it... that would resolve the problem of European digital dependency” on the United States, Xu told German business daily Handelsblatt.
He added that his company would be prepared to invest in developing such joint European-Chinese projects.


Turkey says may begin oil exploration under Libya deal in 3-4 months

Updated 29 May 2020

Turkey says may begin oil exploration under Libya deal in 3-4 months

  • Donmez said Turkish Petroleum (TPAO) would begin operations in areas under its license after the process was completed
  • Turkey could face possible EU sanctions over its operations

ANKARA: Turkey may begin oil exploration in the eastern Mediterranean within three or four months under a deal it signed with Libya that was condemned by others in the region including Greece, Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Friday.
Libya’s internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) signed the maritime delimitation deal last year. Turkey says it creates an exclusive economic zone from its southern coast to Libya’s northeast coast, and protects rights to resources.
Greece, Cyprus and others oppose the accord and call it illegal, an accusation Ankara has rejected. The European Union also opposes the maritime deal that was signed alongside an agreement for Turkey to provide military support to the GNA, which has battled forces based in eastern Libya for more than a year.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the launch of Turkey’s Fatih oil-and-gas drilling ship to the Black Sea, Donmez said Turkish Petroleum (TPAO), which had applied for an exploration permit in the eastern Mediterranean, would begin operations in areas under its license after the process was completed.
“Within the framework of the agreement we reached with Libya we will be able to start our oil exploration operations there within three to four months,” Donmez said. Turkey’s new Kanuni drill ship would also go to the Mediterranean later this year, he added.
The move could further stoke tensions in the region, where Turkey has been at loggerheads for years with Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel over ownership of natural resources. Turkey could also face possible EU sanctions over its operations.
Separately, Donmez said the Fatih drill ship would hold its first operation in the Black Sea on July 15, the anniversary of a 2016 failed coup attempt. Friday also marked the anniversary of Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.